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Has anyone heard of something like this before and/or tried it?

Water changes can be quite harmful to a system's biological balance, making it impossible to achieve superior water quality. Even small water changes, as little as 10%, although well tolerated by most fish, are inhibitory to the delicate microorganisms which maintain healthy balanced systems. To eliminate water changes, use a semi-closed system. This can be done by adding one or more surface drains and a 1/4" line of constant incoming water (freshwater or saltwater; dependant upon the system) controlled by a mini ball valve, spigot, or tap. The incoming water flow rate should be no more than a fast dribble. Having a constant drain coupled with constant incoming water allows for pheromones, which are not responsive to biological assimilation, but will not be detrimental to the system's biological balance. Do not worry about incoming water Ph or chlorine. At such a slow incoming rate the organisms in the system water will maintain the water balance; no chemical additives are needed.
 

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My concern would be toxic build ups in substrate, Nitrates will eventually build up and sediment will eventually biuld up on the bottom.
I have never had a single problem when doing what changes so ill continue doing what i no works :D
 

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I know people that havent changed their water for years all they do is add water to the tank as it evaporates and they dont have any issues. Granted they are only keeping like 4-5 goldfish but they still get away with it and the water stays clear and it doesnt stink. Personally i wouldnt try i can tell a difference in the way my fish act when i havent done a water change for 3 weeks and then do a 50% change they are much more active after that.
 

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if you had a planted tank or a freshwater refugium to keep the nitrates at a decent level, I could see not doing a water change but maybe once every few months...

but anything other than that, in my eyes is asking for problems.
 

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That is not "No mor water changes" but rather constant changing, which many with large fish rooms do. Nitrates will not build up if the amount flowing through is sufficient. Changing large amounts of water (up to 90%) has never caused any problems for me, but, a drip system can and will work. How much needs to come into the system, of course would rely entirely on the bioload.
 

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I have a hard line from my house plumbing to my tank then an overflow to a drain. It's a great setup and makes everything very easy to do. I don't do 'water changes' but I do 'vacume' out the substrate which ends up taking 10 gallons out of the tank. I do that twice a month then on the other weeks i just turn on the tap and let it overflow to clean up the surface. (75 Gal tank) I believe that substrate is what is important not the water change itself.

So to sum it up. Keep the substrate clean and give it about 10% a week of fresh water and you'll have a clean tank. I would never do a 50% change unless something is really wrong with my tank water.
 

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Yeah, I was going to say that even fish store's with a large constant overflow system still do weekly substrate clean ups. As far as the ecological effect on species in a tank you have forgotten many things about the fish we keep.

1. Cichlids for the most part live in rivers or lakes. For the fish that live in the rivers they are in a tirbutary of constantly changing water. For the lake cichlids they are in a lake that comes into a "rainy" season. These are all the planets way of doing water changes.

2. Many of these fish (like some Mbuna) will be more prone to mate after water changes. This is because of their evolution over thousands of years around the rainy season, where mating occurs after the conclusion of this event. Mating at this time gives the fish the best chance of survival as they do not have to worry about the lake drying up for a few more months.

3. We also do not set up "complete" ecosystems, we lack the small animals that are able to sift out the bad particulate so that the lakes do not rot. Due to our lack of the complete ecosystem the only way for us to substitute for this is through sifting the gravel. We have to be the rest of the ecosystem that we will be entirely unable to provide for the fish. While we love seeing the fish we also need to accept he fact that we are only keeping the fish, not the lakes / rivers.

In conclusion, many have tried to do an overflow system that requires them to never have to touch the tank but there are fundamentally a few problems. You lack the ability to clean / dechlorinate the water coming in, so you would need to be extremely careful in regards to the incoming water as it may contain toxins that could kill your fish. (This depends on your area) Also the trapped gases and the build up of waste in the substrate require you to remove this weekly for the best care of the fish. Imagine if your water company said you cannot flush your toilet for a week, would it kill you? Most likely no, but it certainly would not be an ideal living environment. The overflow systems are great but you are going to need to clean your gravel weekly. So an overflow system will keep your water pristine, but you still need to keep your tank in good condition.

Hope it helps.
Patrick

Hope this helps.
 

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I'm putting a continuous flow system in my current tank build. A couple things to consider:

Removing chlorine/chloramine. You need to check with your water provider to see which one they use in your water. If it's chlorine, you can run your water line through a filter to remove the majority of it (90ish%) and the rest will evaporate out (as long as you're not replacing a huge percentage of your tank volume daily.) If it's chloramine you will need to put in a dosing system (like an automated medine doser) to treat the new water coming in.

Cleaning substrate. You will still need to do this for all the reasons previously mentioned. I've made a handy substrate rake out of a piece of 1/2" pvc and a new hair pick. I had a drain put in below my tank that has a piece of clear vinyl tubing attatched to a power head. The plan is I basically stir up the substrate with the rake and follow along with a power head to vacuum the nasty stuff out which is deposited directly into the drain system for the house. No splashing buckets required.

How much new water per day. This is what I've found little information on, but my plan is to replace approx. 10% of the total water volume (including sump) each day. This will be my starting point and I'll have to rely on daily testing to verify if this is acceptable. If you have a large tank you should bear in mind that you could be going through an awful lot of water in a month's time, which could add up pretty quickly. For me I'm looking at changing out around 15 gallons daily or 5,475 gallons per year. That's an average of 475 gallons per month for just one tank.

The bottom line is that it's just like anything else. There are pros and cons to every set up. The best you can do is do as much research into all of your options and decide which fits your needs best.
 

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bentcountershaft said:
How much new water per day. This is what I've found little information on, but my plan is to replace approx. 10% of the total water volume (including sump) each day. This will be my starting point and I'll have to rely on daily testing to verify if this is acceptable. If you have a large tank you should bear in mind that you could be going through an awful lot of water in a month's time, which could add up pretty quickly. For me I'm looking at changing out around 15 gallons daily or 5,475 gallons per year. That's an average of 475 gallons per month for just one tank.
As far as that amount of water is concerned I would tend to say that seems like a lot. I would try to aim for a weekly goal, like 20-30 percent. Which would be about 4% a day. I just don't know if that kind of water replacement in a big tank would be needed. I want to say the smaller the tank the more it needs to be flushed.

Has anyone considered using the drain like a no-spill. Make some sort of attachment so that the water running past the drain creates suction which would allow you to more effectively remove debris from the substrate. This would provide that you would create more effective stirring.



I drew this up real quick. The secret here would be to have a PVC pipe as small as possible so that the drain creates the water movement required to create suction.

Comments please

Patrick
 
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